Packard v. Hoffman et al
ORDER Dismissing Case, denying as moot 5 Motion to Appoint Counsel ; denying as moot 2 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. Signed by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol on 3/13/2017. (JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA
JONATHAN J. PACKARD,
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
THE HONORABLE HOFFMAN, THE
Plaintiff, Jonathan J. Packard, an inmate at the Minnehaha County Jail
in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on
February 16, 2017. Docket 1. Paekard's sparse complaint alleges that his
rights were violated beeause defendants did not give him a motion coneerning
the 180 day rule. Id. at 7. He requests that the eourt dismiss the eriminal
eharge against him in state court. Id.
It appears that Paekard's eriminal case is ongoing. To the extent that it
is, Packard's claims are dismissed under the Younger doetrine. "Younger
preclude[s] federal intrusion into ongoing state criminal prosecutions." Sprint
Commc'ns, Inc. v. Jacobs, 134 S. Ct. 584, 591,(2013). "The Younger abstention
doctrine provides that courts should not exercise federal jurisdiction where '(1)
there is an ongoing state proeeeding,(2) whieh implicates important state
interests, and (3) there is an adequate opportunity to raise any relevant federal
questions in the state proceeding.'" Geier v. Missouri Ethics Comm'n, 715 F.3d
674,678 (8th Cir. 2013)(quoting Plouffe v. Ligon, 606 F.3d 890, 892 (8th Cir.
2010)). Federal courts may enjoin pending state court criminal proceedings
only "in very unusual situations." Night Clubs, Inc. v. City ofFort Smith, Ark.,
163 F.3d 475, 479 (8th Cir. 1998).
All three prongs of the Younger doctrine are satisfied. The crux of
Packard's complaint concerns a seemingly ongoing state proceeding. The state
has an interest in prosecuting its criminal laws. See Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc.,
481 U.S. 1, 10-11 (1987)(the desire to avoid undue interference with legitimate
activities of states mandates application of Younger when the pending state
proceedings are criminal). Finally, Packard has the ability to raise a due
process claim, or any other constitutional claim, as a defense in the state court
proceeding. "Minimal respect for the state processes, of course, precludes any
presumption that the state courts will not safeguard federal constitutional
rights." Middlesex Cty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423,
This court does not have the power to grant an injunction unless
Packard shows that his case fits into an exception to the Ybung'er doctrine: the
irreparable injury exception or the bad faith or harassment exception. In
Younger, the Supreme Court stated that "when [it is] absolutely necessary for
protection of constitutional rights," a federal court may enjoin state officers
from instituting criminal actions. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45 (1971).
Federal courts have this power only when a plaintiff shows irreparable injury
that is great and immediate. Id. Packard has not alleged irreparable harm, and
he has therefore not alleged the grounds for this Younger exception.
Packard does not satisfy the bad faith or harassment exception. A "bad
faith and harassment" exception "is applicable when criminal prosecutions are
instituted for impermissible purposes." Lewellen v. Raff, 843 F.2d 1112
(8th Cir. 1988). Packard does not allege bad faith or harassment.
To the extent Packard has already been convicted and seeks to invalidate
that conviction, his claims are Heck barred. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477, 487 (1994)(holding if"a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence[,]" a claim for
damages is not cognizable under § 1983). If Packard wishes to invalidate his
conviction, he must file a habeas petition in state court first, and then he may
commence a federal habeas action. Both state and federal courts have statute
of limitations on habeas claims.
Finally, Packard only names judges as defendants. Judges are immune
from suit, including § 1983 suits, with two narrow exceptions. "First, a judge is
not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the
judge's judicial capacity. Second, a judge is not immune for actions, though
judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction." Schottel v.
Young, 687 F.3d 370, 373 (8th Cir. 2012)(quoting Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,
11-12 (1991)). These exceptions do not apply here.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED
Packard's complaint (Docket 1) is dismissed without prejudice.
Packard's motion for leave to proceed in forma paiiperis (Docket 2)
is denied as moot.
Packard's motion to appoint counsel (Docket 5) is denied as moot.
Dated this 13th day of March, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
iwrence L. Piersol
United States District Judge
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